Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


International Relations

First Advisor's Name

Mohiaddin Mesbahi

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Eric Lob

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Naisy Sarduy

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Benjamin Smith

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


Palestine, diaspora, advocacy, activism, social justice, social movements, civil society, social change

Date of Defense



This dissertation explores how Palestinian Americans in the diaspora connect with Palestine, Palestinian advocacy, and the Palestinian question. It analyzes and synthesizes the interaction of the Palestinian American diaspora and Palestinian advocacy, exploring its domestic and transnational linkages. It also explores the nexus of domestic and transnational aspects relating to Palestinian identity, political life, advocacy, culture, and politics. This project utilizes two main frameworks, the first is the tripartite composite state theory, focusing specifically on the normative-social structure. The second applies a framework of intersectionality, highlighting the interconnectedness of the Palestinian diaspora and the Palestinian question with other social and rights based movements.

First, this project provides a synopsis of Palestinian migratory patterns to the United States and explores the formation of Palestinian organizations and Palestinian advocacy groups in the United States, tracing how these organizations and institutions have emerged and evolved. It then frames and synthesizes the intersectionality of the Palestinian question with U.S civil society and other U.S. social justice movements. It also explores transnational linkages and the intersectionality of the Palestinian question with other international rights movements. Finally, it investigates and assesses the dynamic interactions between Palestinian activism in the U.S. and the U.S. government, exploring how the Palestinian question interacts within the American political system, how it influences U.S. domestic politics, and how the Palestinian question has evolved within U.S. political discourse over time.

This dissertation argues that when placed within the framework of the composite state theory, Israel maintains its hegemony over the coercive-military and economic-developmental structures, but has lost its domination of the normative-social structure. Additionally, it highlights the dual dichotomies of how the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is assessed at the state/geopolitical level vs. the social and grassroot level (non-state). Finally, it argues that the Palestinian rights movement is no longer a singular issue, but is part of a broader global movement advocating for social and racial justice. As such, this project helps broaden the analytical scope to reflect both the domestic and internationalization of the Palestinian question and how it connects across multiple spectrums.





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